Scottish Power: Worth Switching To?

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Scottish Power, based in Glasgow, is one of the UK’s Big Six energy suppliers. It delivers gas and electricity to over five million households and businesses across the UK. It also boasts some Spanish flair as it’s now a subsidiary of the Spanish utility company, Iberdrola. Find out what the supplier offers, how its customers review it, and where it’s headed.

About Scottish Power

Not many energy suppliers can boast 118 years of experience. Since its birth well over a century ago, Scottish Power has evolved into one of the most seasoned energy companies in Britain. Find out below how a small Glasgow-based electric company became such a vast energy powerhouse.

History

From the year of its inception to today, see Scottish Power’s evolution and ascent to the top.

Timeline

  • 1901 - The company was born in Glasgow, as Clyde Valley Electrical Power Company, one of the very few electric suppliers founded in the UK.
  • 1976 - Clyde Valley became SSEB (South of Scotland Electricity Board) through a merger.
  • 1990 - Scottish Power was formed following the privatisation of the Scottish electricity industry which was previously state-owned. Scottish Power was primarily formed from the merger between the South of Scotland Electricity Board and the North of Scotland Hydro Board.
  • 1995 - It acquired MANWEB, a regional electricity company.
  • 1996 - Scottish Power diversified into the water supply industry by acquiring Southern Water.
  • 2000 - The company acquired PacifiCorp, an electricity supplier for the western part of the United States.
  • 2005 - Scottish Power sold Pacificorp to MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company.
  • 2006 - Scottish Power was acquired by Spanish energy firm Iberdrola for £11.6 billion, creating Europe's third-largest utility company.
  • 2018 - The supplier agreed to sell the Scottish Power Generation group (“Generation”) to Drax Smart Generation HoldCo Ltd for £689 million. This means that all of ScottishPower’s generation capacity now comes from renewable energy sources.
  • 2019 - Scottish Power Renewables opens East Anglia ONE base, an offshore wind farm operations and maintenance base.

Present-day

Scottish Power infographic

Scottish Power is currently the DNO (or Distribution Network Operator) for southern and central Scotland, North Wales, Merseyside as well as parts of Shropshire and Cheshire. The Glasgow-based supplier is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Iberdrola, headquartered in Bilbao, Spain. The three businesses operated by Scottish Power and its subsidiaries during 2018 were:

  1. Energy Networks - with 3,009 employees
  2. Energy wholesale and retail - with 1,696 employees
  3. Renewables - with 395 employees
About Iberdrola:

  • Iberdrola employs over 31,300 staff in numerous subsidiaries around the world.
  • The company provides energy to about 31.67 million customers.
  • They’ve invested heavily in renewable energy sources and are the global leader in wind energy, thanks to Scottish Power’s leadership in the field.
  • If you’re interested in investing in Scottish Power, you’d have to buy shares in their parent company, Iberdrola, which trades on the Madrid Stock Exchange (Bolsa de Madrid).

Shares and finance

Is Scottish Power worth investing in and who owns its shares? Find out where they stand in financial terms:

Shares

Iberdrola’s share price steadily increased throughout 2017. It suffered a few dips in 2018 but recovered at the end of the year. Iberdrola’s share price surged in 2019, having reached a five year high in March.

Key financial information

In the financial year 2017-2018, revenues increased by £114 million. Operating profit for the fiscal year was £938 million, an increase of £290 million from the previous year.

Finance

  • Current liquidity in the Iberdrola group is more than £13 billion, which can be fully utilised if required to fund Scottish Power activities.
  • A combination of debt and equity funds the company; all equity being held by SPW Investments Ltd.

Scottish Power in the news

Let’s have a brief look at some of the biggest stories hitting the headlines concerning Scottish Power.

How to beat the Scottish Power price rises

Selectra news reported how Scottish Power decided to raise its prices by an average of 5.5%. The hike was in tandem with British Gas doing the same. The increase was expected to affect one-third of Scottish Power customers. This would amount to around 960,000 households seeing their average bill increase by about £63.

Investigation into abuse of dominant position

In April 2008, it was alleged that Scottish Power abused its dominant market position in Scotland’s electricity transmission network. Ofgem launched an investigation to determine whether Scottish Power breached section 18 of the Competition Act.

Scottish Power temporarily banned from signing up new customers

Scottish Power was provisionally banned in early 2015 from signing up new customers. This was due to serious concerns regarding poor customer service and overdue bills. Even when customers’ complaints were confirmed and upheld by the Energy Ombudsman, Scottish Power failed to implement the rulings.

Scottish Power incorrectly pursued a couple for a £4,300 debt

In March 2017 Scottish Power erroneously pursued a couple for a debt of £4,300 even though they didn’t owe the supplier any money. Embarrassingly for the supplier, the couple wasn’t even being supplied by Scottish Power at the time. Instead of replying to letters from the couple, Scottish Power instead sent bailiffs to the couple’s home to recover the non-existent debt.

Offshore wind farm opened in Lowestoft

In October 2019, Scottish Power Renewables opened its operations and maintenance base in Lowestoft. This was part of the supplier’s commitment to growing the offshore wind industry in Lowestoft and East Anglia. It is set to have 100 full-time employees working on-site.

Solar-plus-storage farm bid in Scotland

In October 2019, Scottish Power’s renewables arm announced that it had applied to Angus Council to build a utility-scale solar-plus-storage farm in Montrose, Scotland. The plans have been met with opposition from local residents who fear that the private wire, which is to run through agricultural land, will intersect with a proposed road from Montrose to the A90.

Fuel mix

Scottish Power has published its fuel mix information which details how its electricity supply is generated from each fuel source, be it from natural gas, coal, renewable or nuclear energy.

Of the total fuel mix of electricity supplied in the UK, only 33% comes from renewable energy sources. The supplier claims to be the UK’s leading wind farm developer, so it’s expected that more energy will be supplied from wind power in the future.

In October 2018, Scottish Power sold their remaining fossil fuel and hydropower plants to Drax, focusing solely on green energy. The “100% wind power” as advertised on its website, refers to its commitment to purchase a corresponding unit of wind energy for every unit of energy used by its customers.


Scottish Power Services

The supply of gas and electricity is not all that’s offered by Scottish Power. To stand out from its competitors, it has launched a range of other services for homeowners to be more energy-efficient and their appliances more reliable. These services range from boiler care to smart thermostats. Let's have a look what each service entails:

Boiler Care

Boiler cover is a must if you want to stay protected in the event of a boiler breakdown. Otherwise, it could cost you a lot of money to repair or replace a broken boiler. If you’re a customer with Scottish Power, they claim to offer a competitive rate through their partnered insurance company, Domestic and General.

Their Maintenance and Support Plans offer an annual service, repairs and boiler maintenance tips. Find out about their policies, plans and prices in our Scottish Power Boiler Cover guide (coming soon).

Plumbing, drains and electrics

Scottish Power has also partnered with home emergency insurer AXA to offer customers insurance for:

  • Plumbing - leaks, burst pipes, etc.
  • Drains - blocked toilets, clogged sink valves, etc.
  • Electrical system - wiring problems that fail to turn the lights on, etc.

You can choose from one of three types of cover:

  1. Plumbing and drains only
  2. Plumbing, drains and electrical
  3. Electrical only

For more information about this cover, head to Scottish Power’s products and services page.

Kitchen appliances

If you have one or more kitchen appliance that breaks down, you can get cover for this through Scottish Power’s insurance partner, Domestic & General. Their Appliance Care plans cover a range of kitchen appliances to minimise the risk of breakdown. Some of the domestic white goods covered under the Appliance Care plans include the following:

  • American fridge freezer at £9.50 / month
  • Oven at £6.50 / month
  • Washing machine at £7.50 / month

Smart meters

A Scottish Power smart meter can be requested directly through their website by the click of a button. Your Scottish Power meter readings are sent to them automatically, so you shouldn’t get any estimated bills, in theory. Freedom to monitor your consumption and budget for your bills are just some of the many benefits of a smart meter. Find out what else you can get from one in our Smart Meter Guide:

Smart Meter Guide

Once you’ve made your appointment for your smart meter installation, Scottish Power encourages you to follow a checklist to prepare for the day:

  1. Before the installation - clear the surrounding area around your meters so as to allow easy access. If Scottish Power’s engineer may have trouble getting to them to fit your new meters, let them know in advance. Click the button at the bottom of the page to get their number.
  2. On the day of installation - switch off your heating and all electrical equipment. Also, switch off any gas appliances and don’t use them until the installation has been completed. For more info on smart meters, see our short video below:
 

Once you’re all set up, the Scottish Power smart meter installer will provide you with the following:

  • Smart welcome pack - which details the benefits of your new smart meter along with tips on how you can get the most out of it.
  • In-Home display - with advice on how to use it.
  • Installation checklist - and answers to any questions you may have.

Electric vehicle charging

Electric vehicles are vital in achieving the UK’s net-zero targets for 2050. Scottish Power is playing its part by facilitating the installation of EV home chargers, coupled with attractive EV tariffs.

An EV home charger allows for a convenient way to charge your electric vehicle at home. It costs £899, including standard installation, but you can also apply for government funding to finance part of the cost:

  • If you live anywhere in the UK, you can apply for a grant of £500 offered by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV). So instead of paying £899 for a Smart EV home charger, you’d pay £399.
  • If you live in Scotland, in addition to OLEV funding, you can also apply for a £300 grant from the Energy Savings Trust (EST). So instead of paying £899 for a Smart EV home charger, you’d pay just £99.

To find out about Scottish Power’s SmartPower EV Tariff, see our Scottish Power Tariffs guide.

Smart thermostat

If you’re a Scottish Power customer, smart homes don’t stop with having a smart meter. The company also offers a Smart Thermostat to control and regulate your home’s temperature, even when you’re not there. Here’s how it works:

  • Instead of going back to a cold house, use the app to boost your heating. That way you’ll ensure that your home will be cosy to snuggle up on the sofa and that the water's warm for your shower.
  • If you’re looking after an elderly relative, you can check the temperature on your phone and adjust it as necessary.
  • When temperatures drop overnight in the winter, there’s no need to worry about frozen pipes. The Smart Thermostat will detect low temperatures and will switch the heating on automatically.
  • Scottish power makes these available for £19.99 per month spread over 12 months and comes with an extended warranty.

Scottish Power Energy Grants

Scottish Power helps its customers to avoid fuel poverty by offering them two types of grants: the Scottish Power Warm Home Discount and the Hardship Fund. Find out below what each one entails and how to get it:

Scottish Power Warm Home Discount

The Warm Home Discount is a scheme that gives you a rebate of £140 off your electricity costs during the colder months of winter, when energy use typically rises.

Important dates to remember:

  1. The scheme will commence on 1st April 2019.
  2. If your application has been accepted, your rebate will be made by 31st March 2020.
  3. The scheme will run until 31st December 2021.

Find out in our Scottish Power Warm Home Discount guide if you’re eligible to qualify automatically for a rebate and how to apply for it if not.

Hardship Fund

If you find yourself in arrears with your gas and electricity bills owed to Scottish Power, customers can get the Hardship Fund to reduce or clear them completely.

You must meet strict criteria to be eligible for it and the application involves a number of simple steps to take. Find out whether you’re eligible to get the Fund and how to apply for it.


Scottish Power tariffs and prices

 

You have the choice of several fixed-rate tariffs and one variable-rate tariff. To refresh your memory on the difference between the two and which one is best for you, see our guide on Your Bill Explained.

Fixed-rate tariffs

Scottish Power offers four fixed-rate tariffs. You’ll want to choose one of these if you want price certainty, since the standing charge and unit rate will remain the same throughout the term of your contract. Two of these tariffs are fixed over one year and the other two are fixed for two years.

It’s not easy to decipher any of them by their names alone. Head to our Scottish Power Tariffs guide to find out what they include and how much they cost (scroll below and hit the button).

Variable-rate tariff

If you prefer to pay what Scottish Power pays to procure the energy it supplies to you, then you’ll want their variable-rate tariff, called Standard. If the price of energy goes up or down in the energy wholesale market, so will your bills.

While you won’t get the same price certainty as you would from a fixed-rate tariff, you can avoid paying exit fees if you decide to switch supplier. Scroll down and click on the button below to see all the benefits of Scottish Power’s variable-rate tariff.

Prepayment tariff

If you have a prepayment meter, then you pay for your energy in advance by topping it up with credit before you actually consume energy. The tariff you’ll be on is the Standard variable-rate tariff. Head to our Scottish Power Tariffs guide below to find out what standing charge and unit rate you’ll be paying with a prepayment meter.

Business tariffs

Scottish Power business tariff rates are some of the most competitive in the UK market. They offer business energy customers a dedicated Business Energy Team, and if you need it, they can give you expert energy advice through their partnership with The Carbon Trust.

Depending on your business size and industry, Scottish Power aims to offer the right tariff for you. That’s why it has separate plans for small businesses and for commercial companies:

  • If you’re running a small business, you have two fixed-rate tariffs allowing you to fix your energy costs for up to 3 years. You also have one variable-rate tariff on offer.
  • Scottish Power’s commercial tariffs would be better suited if you’re working on behalf of a larger chain of companies, or your premises includes an industrial site.

Find out what the differences between them are, the features and benefits on offer, as well as all the tariffs applicable. Just head to our Scottish Power Tariffs guide by clicking the button below.

SmartPower EV Tariff

If you have an electric vehicle, the Scottish energy supplier offers a SmartPower EV Tariff, which it boldly claims to be 90% cheaper compared to filling up your tank at the petrol station. The benefit of the tariff is the freedom to charge up your car overnight at a cheaper rate than what you would otherwise pay at a petrol station. This is essentially a new twist on the classic Economy 7 formula. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Discounted electricity unit rate: 4.736p/KWh
  • Off-Peak hours: From 12:00am (midnight) to 5:00am.

Find out more about the EV tariff in our Scottish Power Tariffs guide.

How do Scottish Power Prices compare to the market average?

confused man

What’s the market average? A common benchmark used to measure the average gas and electricity expenditure from a standard household is Ofgem’s price cap.

What’s Ofgem’s price cap? Our news article on the recent change to the cap explains that it sets a maximum ceiling on the amount of money your energy company can charge you per unit of gas or electricity. This includes any additional fees for delivering the energy to your home. Most suppliers charge up to the price cap which is currently set at £1,178.

What would you spend with Scottish Power? Scottish Power is £85 more expensive than Ofgem’s price cap. Calculations were based on a three-bedroom home in London on the standard dual-fuel tariff with average energy consumption, paying £1,263.35 per year with Scottish Power.

If this good or bad? It’s not good that Scottish Power’s prices exceed the price cap! While this doesn’t breach Ofgem’s regulations, it doesn’t put Scottish Power in a good light as a competitive supplier. Your energy bills could be a lot less with other energy companies that charge much lower prices, such as Tonik Energy or Nabuh Energy. Find out in our Scottish Power tariffs guide how its prices compare to its competitors and the price score we gave them at Selectra.


How can I contact Scottish Power?

You may have a number of questions before you consider switching to the Glasgow-based supplier. If you’re currently one of their customers, you may have some queries about your bills, logging in online or anything else related to your account.

Before you make the switch

Read Scottish Power reviews before deciding to switch to them. You’ll want to make an informed decision based on what other customers have experienced. Read frequent Scottish Power complaints on consumer review websites so that you know what you’re up against if you choose to switch to them.

Your second step should be to speak to one of Selectra’s energy experts to find out if Scottish Power is right for you. Remember that gas can electricity is the same regardless of the supplier, but your bills could be far cheaper! Our team of energy experts will compare Scottish Power’s tariffs against their competitors. They’ll ask you a series of questions about your home’s size and your energy consumption to offer you a personalised comparison.

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Contact Scottish Power - current customers

As a customer of Scottish Power, you may have several reasons to contact them. Perhaps your last bill was unusually high or want to change tariff. Perhaps it’s related to your smart meter or you’re having trouble

logging in to your online account. Whatever your query, note that Scottish Power has a specific phone number or email address, depending on the category your query falls into.

Call the wrong number, and you could be left waiting on hold, or bounced around from one operator to another. Save yourself the time and stress by getting the correct number from our Scottish Power Contact guide.


Scottish Power reviews and verdict

According to the supplier’s website, there were 26,833 Scottish Power complaints in September 2018. Of these, 59% were resolved in the same day, and 76% were resolved within five working days.

The supplier also published the top five reasons for the complaints they receive, in the following order:

  1. Billing (29%)*
  2. Customer Services (27%)*
  3. Payment Issues (21%)*
  4. Metering (16%)*

*Percentages of total number of complaints received in the second quarter of 2019.

Does Scottish Power’s complaints data tie in with the nature of complaints published on consumer review websites? We did some digging to find out.

Scottish Power reviews

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Out of the 737 reviews published by Scottish Power customers on a leading consumer review website, a whopping 93% rated them as Bad. This is the lowest rating on the given scale. After reading many Scottish Power complaints, the issues seem to be divided between incorrect billing and poor customer service.

However, the latest Which? Survey gave Scottish Power high marks for their complaint response turnaround time. The mismatch may be because of the large and confusing structure of their customer service branch. It is likely that they are quick to respond, but only for customers who call the right number.

Very few complainants had “payment issues,” and those with a smart meter already installed were still getting incorrect bills. In summary, it seems that the top two reasons behind Scottish Power complaints are the same two as those listed above. Reviews frequently mention:

  • Unexplained and unexpected electricity bill increases.
  • Lack of clarity on bill calculations.
  • Long waiting times to speak to a customer service representative.
  • An inefficient and confusing complaints resolution process.

As you can see on our Scottish Power contact page (button above), there are quite a few different contact and complaint webpages and phone numbers, and it can be difficult to know exactly who to contact for which issue. This undoubtedly contributes to their customers’ woes.

The verdict

At Selectra, we assessed Scottish Power’s recent performance in delivering to the standards expected by its customers. We discounted their previous penalties and sanctions imposed by Ofgem in 2015 for poor customer service and overdue bills, as well as their failure to implement the rulings from the Energy Ombudsman.

Scottish Power complaints published on consumer review websites seem to point to inefficient customer service practices which leave many of their most vulnerable customers in the lurch. In fact, Scottish Power received so many complaints that Ofgem announced only last September 2018 that they would open an investigation into the company's failing customer-service response practices. This is obviously a huge red flag to current and potential customers.

The criteria used for Selectra’s verdict is based on the supplier’s prices relative to the market average, its average consumer review score, its fuel mix and perks offered to customers. In addition, we took into consideration Scottish Power’s strengths and weaknesses:

 The Pros  The Cons
100% wind sourced electricity Very poor customer reviews
Some competitive tariff options More expensive than independent suppliers
Warm home discount offered Convoluted customer service structure

While Scottish Power does offer a wide range of products and services, as well as a commendable commitment to greener energy, these positive points are overshadowed by their subpar customer service, which impacts British households the most. Their customer service reviews are dreadful, and while smart meters and a smartphone app may be convenient, they’re hardly revolutionary. Taken together, we awarded Scottish Power with 2 / 5 stars.

Scottish Power: Selectra's verdict - ★★